Alumni Chats with Wayne Chang: Meet Danny Yaroslavski, founder of Lightbot

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In the new Alumni Chats with Wayne Chang series, E Co-op Coordinator and BET 300 instructor Wayne Chang catches up with alumni from our undergraduate programs who are now running their startups full-time.

Lightbot logo
I would like to introduce you to Danny Yaroslavski, who is the founder of Lightbot, a startup dedicated to teaching kids to code through gaming. This alumnus worked full-time on Lightbot during his Spring 2013 Enterprise Co-op term and further developed his business in Conrad's BET 300: Foundations of Venture Creation course.

Lightbot was featured prominently in Hour of Code 2014, an international initiative to introduce millions of young students to one hour of computer science and programming. Lightbot is used by students worldwide and is available to play in 29 languages.

Photo of Danny Yaroslavski
Danny has received considerable recognition for his innovative work, winning a Velocity Fund Finals award of $25,000 and being named to Forbes Top 30 Under 30 in the education category.

Since his graduation in 2014 with a Bachelor of Computer Science, he has continued to give generously to the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Waterloo, sharing his experiences as a BET 300 invited speaker and mentoring many startups in Conrad courses and Velocity programs.

What are you working on these days?

Danny: I am currently working full-time at Lightbot.

The goal is to change the way that kids learn about computer science, by hooking them on coding as early as grade school.

What was memorable for you at UWaterloo that impacted your entrepreneurial perspective?

Danny: It was very motivating to be exposed to the large number of students who were working on their own ventures alongside their schoolwork, as I was.

It showed me that it was possible and that I could create real value impacting the world outside of university. I would binge on any event that clustered student-entrepreneurs, whether that was the Velocity Alpha sessions, pitch nights, or BET night classes.

What would you like to share with aspiring entrepreneurs at Waterloo?

Danny: Despite what everyone says, you may not need a co-founder to run a successful company. There are multiple examples in which sole founders have created highly successful, highly influential, and highly profitable businesses on their own or by bringing on volunteers, contracting, or hiring.

The only time you really need a co-founder is if you are lacking a core skill required for your business, and even then, only if that core skill is one you yourself cannot pick up over time.

Stay tuned for our next Alumni Chat with Wayne Chang, featuring Beth Nenniger and Laura Austin of BuildDirect (formerly DraftingSPACE)!